Yi Kwang-su and Modern Literature: Mujong
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444pp. February 2010
Yi Kwang-su and Modern Literature: Mujong
Author: Lee, Ann Sung-Hi;
Yi Kwang-su (1892–1950) was one of the pioneers of modern Korean literature. When the serialization of Mujông (The Heartless) began in 1917, it was an immediate sensation, and it occupies a prominent place in the Korean literary canon. The Heartless is the story of a love triangle among three youths during the Japanese occupation. Yi Hyông-sik is a young man in his mid-twenties who is teaching English at a middle school in Seoul. Brilliant but also shy and indecisive, he is torn between two women. Kim Sôn-hyông is from a wealthy Christian family; she has just graduated from a modern, Western-style school and is planning on continuing her studies in the United States. Pak Yông-ch’ae is a musically gifted young woman who was raised in a traditional Confucian manner; due to family misfortune, she has become a kisaeng but remains devoted to Hyông-sik whom she knew as a child. The Heartless goes beyond the level of romantic melodrama and uses these characters to depict Korea’s struggles with modern culture and national identity.

A long critical introduction discusses Yi Kwang-su’s life and work from his birth in 1892 to the publication of his first novel The Heartless in 1917. It contains in-depth analyses of the novel, Yi Kwang-su’s literary theory, and early short stories.


Cornell East Asia Series #127
Distributed for the Cornell University East Asia Program
Author: Lee, Ann Sung-Hi;



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